Charles Sheeler (American, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1883–1965 Dobbs Ferry, New York)
Oil on canvas
24 in. × 29 1/4 in. (61 × 74.3 cm)
Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1949
Not on view
In painting and photography, Sheeler presented his interest in industry’s robust architecture. He viewed American factories and industrial plants as modern-day equivalents to the Gothic cathedrals of Europe. Expressing his belief in machinery’s powerful symbolism, he said, "Industry concerns the greatest numbers—it may be true, as has been said, that our factories are our substitute for religious expression." Here, Sheeler adopted techniques from his photographic practice—cropping, sharply angled views—and applied them to painting, presenting the water plant’s massive system of pipes and buttressed towers as an imposing contemporary monument.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left) Sheeler 1945
the artist, New York (1945–at least 1946; to Downtown Gallery); [Downtown Gallery, New York, until 1949; sold to MMA]
New York. Downtown Gallery. "Important New Paintings and Sculpture by Leading American Artists," May 1–25, 1945, checklist no. 19 (notes that this is the first showing of this work).
Art Institute of Chicago. "The Fifty–Sixth Annual American Exhibition," October 25, 1945–January 1, 1946, no. 132 (awarded the Norman Wait Harris Silver Medal and Prize).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "20th Century Painters: A Special Exhibition of Oils, Water Colors and Drawings Selected from the Collections of American Art in the Metropolitan Museum," June 16–October 29, 1950, unnum. brochure. (p. 11).
San Juan. El Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña. "Arte del Siglo Veinte: EE.UU. del Museo Metropolitano de Arte," April 19–May 31, 1974, no. 13.
Moscow. State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. "Representations of America," December 15, 1977–February 15, 1978, no catalogue.
Leningrad. State Hermitage Museum. "Representations of America," March 15–May 15, 1978, no catalogue.
Minsk, Belarus. Palace of Art. "Representations of America," June 15–August 15, 1978.
Canberra. Australian National Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," March 1–April 27, 1986, unnumbered cat. (p. 59).
Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," May 7–July 1, 1986, unnumbered cat.
Berlin. Deutsches Historisches Museum. "Kunst und Propaganda: Im Streit der Nationen 1930–1945," January 26–April 29, 2007, no. US/44.
C. J. Bulliet. "Religious Trends Challenge Our Materialism in Chicago Annual." Art Digest 20 (November 1, 1945), pp. 7–8, ill., states that this painting won the $500 Harris Prize at the 1945 Chicago Annual American Exhibition of Paintings.
Robert Beverly Hale. 100 American Painters of the 20th Century: Works Selected from the Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1950, p. xxi, ill. p. 103.
Francis Henry Taylor. "A Report on American Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8 (January 1950), ill. p. 134.
Henry Geldzahler. American Painting in the Twentieth Century. New York, 1965, pp. 139–40, ill.
Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 1983, p. 419, no. 19, ill. (color).
Ross Woodrow in20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Australian National Gallery. Canberra, 1986, p. 59, ill. (color).
Lowery S. Sims in20th Century Art: Selections from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Vol. 2, Painting: 1945–1985. New York, 1986, pp. 10–11, ill. (color, overall and detail).
William S. Lieberman in20th Century Art: Selections from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Vol. 2, Painting: 1945–1985. New York, 1986, p. 6.
Nikola Doll inKunst und Propaganda: Im Streit der Nationen 1930–1945. Exh. cat., Deutsches Historisches Museum. Dresden, 2007, pp. 422–23, no. US/44, ill. (color).